Italy may have to leave eurozone, Berlusconi says

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said Italy may be forced to leave the eurozone if Germany does not accept that the European Central Bank must be a real central bank.

“If Germany doesn’t accept that the ECB must be a real central bank, if interest rates don’t come down, we will be forced to leave the euro and return to our own currency in order to be competitive,” Berlusconi said on Tuesday during a TV interview with Italian media.

On December 8, the 76-year-old Berlusconi announced that he will lead his People of Freedom party (PDL) in a national election expected to be held in February 2013. His PDL party is lagging with some 14 points in polls behind the Democratic Party, which holds above 30 percent support.

PDL lawmakers announced on December 17 that the party gives support to the Prime Minister Mario Monti, creating confusion over who will be the candidate at the February election.

In November 2011, Berlusconi was forced to step down as prime minister after coming under immense pressure for mishandling the Italian economy.

Italy started to experience recession after its economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the third quarter of 2011 and by 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

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